Maharashtra bans sale of loose cigarettes, beedis

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on September 27, 2020

The Maharashtra Government, in an unprecedented move, has decided to ban the loose sales of cigarettes and beedis in the State.

Health Secretary Pradeep Vyas, in a notification issued on September 24, has banned the loose sales of the items under The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisements and Regulation of Trade and Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 with immediate effect.

The reason given for the ban is that cigarettes and beedis packs have graphic images warning about the health consequences of smoking. However, single sale of the cigarette and beedi sticks will not carry a warning, therefore in the public interest such a ban has been imposed.

The State had also experimented with a complete ban on gutka consumption in early 2002 but it took over a decade of litigations and laws passed in the State Assembly to a get a complete ban.

Cigarette seller, Ashok Vishwakarma in Laldongar area of Chembur in Eastern suburb of Mumbai, said that such a ban will hit the business. It is already down because of Covid. Most of his smokers prefer to buy loose cigarettes and beedis, as they do not want to carry the pack home. Now, carrying a full pack will create more problems for the smokers.

Arvind Singh, a regular smoker, who smokes a mid-range Indian brand costing about ₹170 per 10-cigarette pack, said he fears that buying a full pack will lead to an increase in his consumption. From 12 cigarettes he had brought down his consumption to three a day. “Buying a pack is similar to attending a lunch in a five-star hotel, you always tend to overeat,” he said.

Cancer surgeon Ajay Punpale from Latur district, which has a high rate of tobacco consumption, said that smokers pick up the habit at the age of about 16 or 17 when they are not earning but can afford to buy a single cigarette or a beedi. Buying a whole pack could be beyond their reach, but four friends could pool in the money and buy the pack. They could have access to more sticks of cigarettes or beedis.

Eminent Neurosurgeon Atul Goel of KEM Hospital in Mumbai, welcoming the move, said that tobacco smoking is a bigger killer than heart disease and diabetes. Major complications such a stroke and spinal stenosis are due to heavy smoking, he said.

Published on September 27, 2020

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